Continued fiscal stimulus funding will provide for more than 100 additional student places at Highlands College in the next academic year.

Treasury and Resources Minister Senator Philip Ozouf has approved the allocation of £620,500 from the £44 million discretionary fiscal stimulus fund to enable Highlands to offer an increased number of full-time places, for the second year running.

More people are turning to further education to improve their skills and gain qualifications while there are fewer job opportunities due to the recession.

Using data on applications, Highlands College management team predicts that in excess of 100 additional students than usual will apply to start a course this September, and more of those who join or who are currently studying will stay at the college rather than leave early to find employment. It will bring the total number of Highlands students to an expected 857.

It’s thought that the additional 100 places that have been offered this current academic year, also funded by fiscal stimulus money, has reduced the number of young people – particularly those leaving school at 16 – who would have been registered unemployed and claimed job seekers allowance.

Education, Sport and Culture Minister Deputy James Reed said: “As a result of reduced employment opportunities due to the economic downturn, demand for places on full-time courses at Highlands has increased significantly. I would like to place on record my thanks to the staff at Highlands and the Skills Board for their efforts in enabling more people to improve their skills which in turn will help them access work as the economy recovers.”

Assistant Director of Education Sport and Culture David Greenwood said: “In order to provide opportunities for individuals who in a different economic climate would probably have secured employment, additional funding was provided last year to enable us to increase the places we could offer across a range of courses where demand was particularly high. A particular area of growth is hospitality, a sector where there is demand for jobs. This has traditionally been an area where seasonal staff have been recruited to the island, but now that there are increased numbers of unemployed, with the right training, local people will be able to fill those positions.”

Treasury and Resources Minister Senator Philip Ozouf said: “The additional places at Highlands, which are generally qualifications-based, are only a part of the fiscal stimulus activity supporting individuals through skills and training projects. The Advance to Work scheme, for example, is more practical and has been a huge success, providing an alternative option for young people who are not looking for full time education.”

Senator Ozouf added: “Providing additional opportunities for full-time study leading to qualifications during an economic downturn should deliver long-term economic benefits through a more highly educated and skilled workforce, as well as the stimulus benefits in the short term.

“Young people represent particularly high numbers of those actively seeking work so offering more study places for formal qualifications will help make people better prepared for employers, who become increasingly demanding during and after a recession.”

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Notes to editors: For further information, please contact Senator Philip Ozouf on 440597.